We’ve come to the end of a long week of celebrity appearances, shapes, Marmite, stock footage, staged cups of tea, and David Cameron. The Party Political Broadcast has clearly demonstrated itself to be a sophisticated art form, which is complicated to the degree where even those with a lot of money to spend cannot pull one off successfully.
What conclusions can we draw from what we’ve seen, then? Well, first off, I think it’s safe to say that the medium of video, at least in this respect, is very restricting. It’s a monumental task to try and cram in policies, party ideologies, reasons to vote (for them), attention-grabbers (bangs), and rapport-building emotional subtext, tied up with a bow of political branding, into a video that’s no longer than five minutes. Indeed, in some cases, it’s not possible at all, and parties have to produce multiple Party Political Broadcasts to get across the ‘full picture’. Don’t forget that I have only concentrated on single videos, here, for purposes of brevity. There are many other PPBs out there, and I implore you to go and hunt them out. However, it’s important that broadcasts get their message across to any citizen who only watches one particular broadcast, which is we’re honest, means most of us. It’s not okay to assume that voters will hunt down every video, like a crazed groupie, foaming at the mouth with lust for political knowledge. Advertising, in most cases, is an obligation, so be nice, and be concise.
What is it about content, specifically, that is either engaging or not? What makes a Party Political Broadcast great, as opposed to one that’s average? Also, is it best to get across those all-important manifesto points, and plans for world domination, or provide something enjoyable and visually stimulating? Why can’t you do both? In my opinion, at least, I’ve always felt that as a visual medium, videos need to take advantage of, well, video. It’s no point inundating your viewers with text, or narration. If that’s to be the case, then why produce a video? Why not print yet another leaflet, or parade through the streets, narrating the public with a megaphone? It just doesn’t make sense. A good Party Political Broadcast needs to be a good piece of video. Something that makes you say, “wow, that was cool”, while giving you the down-low on what the relevant party stand for. Off the top of my head, I remember the colourful shapes from the Green Party broadcasts, and the very visual tableaus constructed from them. I also remember all of the paper from the Lib Dem broadcast. That isn’t to say that the other broadcasts were terrible, though. In much of the same way, I remember the dodgy, staged shots of Malcolm Pearson at home, from UKIP’s broadcast, and Eddie Izzard’s cheeky “vote Labour” from the Labour broadcast. Whether these remembrances translate into anything worthwhile is another question entirely, but at least it’s a way of ensuring that whatever political party are guaranteed a valuable plot of prime brain real-estate.
To conclude, and to return to our original question, how relevant are today’s Party Political Broadcasts? I think it’s important to take into account that this year, these broadcasts are being watched online, as well as on TV. This instantly presents a challenge, seeing as these are two wildly different mediums, which each carry different expectations. I must reiterate, however, that while videos are special, videos are still videos. They should be treated as such, and should offer something pleasing, or memorable (hopefully both). It doesn’t matter how well you tag your videos, or make it as easy as possible to distribute them throughout the Internet. A boring video is still a boring video. In my mind, at least, the most successful Party Political Broadcasts have been those that have been innovative, and have provided some spectacle. From my perspective, what with this being the ‘digital election’, and all, I’d hope that political parties want to make illuminating broadcasts, as to encourage (positive) sharing. I am only part of one of many demographics and target markets, but I do feel this rule applies across the board. No matter how old you are, who you are, or where you live, you still possess the capacity to be amused, and to be entertained. Also, don’t forget that word-of-mouth still applies, whether online, off-line, or in line at the Post Office.
Thanks for reading, folks.
Hello! Today, we’re continuing with our explorative study of ‘fringe party’ Party Political Broadcasts, today focusing on UKIP. Despite the many negative allegations brought against the party, does their advertising redeem their supposedly tarnished reputation? Let’s find out.
What does it say about UKIP? A shot-by-shot analysis: The video starts with a shot of esteemed boxing manager Frank Maloney, who entreats us to listen to him “before we turn over”. Shots of Maloney in a boxing gym, assumingly ‘training’ kids and Asian fellows. Maloney stresses that UKIP is about ‘fairness’, and ‘straight talking’. The boxing makes me feel threatened. Maloney asks us to ‘keep listening’ if we want to get ‘out of the EU’ and ‘stop immigration’. Cut to UKIP leader Malcolm Pearson, talking about how UKIP members are unsatisfied with Britain’s membership of the EU. He goes on to explain that it is UKIP’s intention to end such a membership, while maintaining a free trade agreement with the EU. Shots of Pearson in his office, which I assume is also his home, while he narrates why leaving the EU is so important, because of saving Post Offices, and ‘maintaining our own treaties’. Cut back to shot of Pearson explaining how Britain only possesses 9% of the EU vote. Shot of Pearson enjoying a hot beverage in his garden. Cut back to Pearson talking, indirectly blaming economic crisis on EU membership. Close-up of Pearson, who informs us that UKIP will be elected by us, ‘the people’, to serve us, ‘the people’. Cut to shots of ex-UKIP leader Nigel Farage, watching what appears to be recordings of people asking questions, on something that resembles a CCTV-type setup. Farage talks about how immigration is detrimental to the jobs market. Farage then explains how UKIP will implement a 5 year freeze on immigration if elected. Shot of a black man saying he wants to ‘know his streets are safe’. Farage informs viewers that they’ve gone “soft in the head”, and explains how we need to extend prison sentences, and build more prisons. Tax question from UKIP candidate potentially posing as member of public. Farage explains ‘flat-rate’ tax. Shot of woman asking why ‘other people’ should dictate what schools her children attend. Farage explains that ‘selective education’ would allow more people to go to University, from poorer backgrounds. Farage also explains that we shouldn’t “send everyone on” to university, and should encourage children to learn trades. Shot of woman stating that she wants to know that her ‘job is safe’. Farage explains that most jobs are offered from small and medium-sized businesses, which are limited by ‘EU red tape’. Farage also explains that scrapping National Insurance will promote economic growth. Shot of man stating he doesn’t want his children to pay for the mistakes made which led to the current economic crisis. Farage states that by cutting spending in the public sector “by about £50 billion in year one”, by getting rid of “wasteful government excess”. Man asks how UKIP will “influence policy”. Farage responds by explaining that “patriotism is not a dirty word”, and that his party only want to “put the British people first.” Farage asks viewers to “vote for the United Kingdom” by voting for UKIP. Cut to ident, which exclaims and promotes ‘Straight Talking’.
Opinion: UKIP seems to have incorporated many elements into its broadcast, including recruiting the services of alleged homophobe and racist Frank Maloney (at least according to Wikipedia, which is admittedly not the most reliable source), and featuring many ‘questions from the public’, which at least to me, is suspect. The Q&A segment of the broadcast opens with a black man, which I assume is an attempt to negate any racist connotations that viewers may affiliate with the party, and show the party as ‘mutually race friendly’. The party’s reputation is an issue throughout the broadcast, since Maloney even opens the video by urging the viewer not to ‘turn over’. It appears that even UKIP are aware of a rocky public reputation. From a stylistic point of view, the video seems somewhat amateur, and the shots of Pearson at home look clearly staged. I’d also question their relevance with regards to the video. I dislike the video’s, and especially Farrage’s aggression, openly telling viewers they have gone “soft in the head”, which in my experience is not a good way to convince anyone of anything. To their benefit, they do explain what they intend to achieve, and how they intend to achieve it, however flawed this explanation may be. Regretfully, their constant references to their tarnished reputation, and almost blatant acknowledgement that many people see the party as racist is greatly detrimental to the video’s power to influence. Why do they focus so heavily on their shortcomings, and negative party perceptions, when instead they could spend their limited time preaching positivity? Words fail me.
That’s it for today! On Monday we shall end our analysis of Party Political Broadcasts with the BNP’s recent effort, before drawing conclusions from all we’ve learned. Sorry for the delay, dear readers, but even I need a break sometimes! Watch this space.